Adams Papers

To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, 25 May 1785

From Thomas Jefferson

Paris May 25. 1785.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 22d from Montreuil sur mer is put into my hands this moment, and having received information of your son and two American gentlemen being to set out for London tomorrow morning1 I seize a moment to inform you that he had arrived well at l’Orient & was well on the 20th. when the packet was still detained by contrary winds. mr̃ Barclay, who is arrived, had also seen him.2 be so good as to inform the ladies that mr̃s Hayes is arrived. I have not yet seen her, but am this moment going to perform that duty. I fear the ladies have had a more triste journey than we had calculated on. the poverty of the country & distress of the drought would of course produce this effect. I am the more convinced of this as you say they have found amusement in my notes. they presented themselves to their notice under fortunate circumstances. I am happy if you find any thing in them worthy your approbation. but my country will probably estimate them differently. a foreknowlege of this has retarded my communicating them to my friends two years.— but enough of them.— the departure of your family has left me in the dumps. my afternoons hang heavily on me. I go sometimes to Passy & Mont Parnasse.3 when they are gone too I shall be ready for the dark & narrow house of Ossian.4 we attended the Queen’s entrance yesterday, but lost the sight of her. you can calculate, and without many figures, the extent of this mortification to me. to render it more complete I had placed myself & my daughter in my carriage very finely before the Palais Bourbon to see the illuminations of the Garde meubles which are to cost the king of Spain two or three thousand guineas. but they sent a parcel of souldiers to drive us all away. we submitted without making battle; I carried my daughter to the Abbaye5 & came home to bed myself. I have now given you all the news of Paris as far as I know it & after recommending myself to the friendly recollection of the ladies I conclude with assurances of the esteem with which I have the honour to be dear Sir / your affectionate friend / & servt.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. send me your address au plutot.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jefferson May 25. / ansd June 7. 1785”; notation by CFA: “not published.” CFA presumably means that the letter was not published in Jefferson, Correspondence, ed. Randolph description begins Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies: from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Charlottesville, Va., 1829; 4 vols. description ends . See, for example, the descriptive note to Jefferson’s 22 June letter, below.

1In Jefferson’s “Summary journal of letters” he indicates that this letter was carried by “Chew and Chamberlayne” (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 8:164). The two men also carried Thomas Barclay’s letters of 24 May, not found, and 26 May with its enclosures, for which see James Grubb’s 23 May letter, and note 1, above; and JA’s 7 June letter to Barclay, below. JA indicates in his Diary that after arriving in London he received and returned visits from “Mr. Chamberlain Palsgrave Place Strand. No. 5” and “Mr. Chew. Charles Street St. James’s Square No. 23.” (JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:179).

2For JQA’s relations with Barclay while he awaited passage for America at Lorient, see AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 6:152; JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:270, 271–272, 274.

3That is, he visited Benjamin Franklin at Passy and Barclay’s family at its residence on the Rue de Montparnasse (vol. 16:278).

4That is, the grave. Jefferson refers to a passage from Book IV of the epic poem Fingal, London, 1761. Published by Scottish writer James Macpherson (1736–1796) as a translation of a work of the legendary Gaelic poet Ossian, it was later proved to be largely Macpherson’s own composition (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements; rev. edn., description ends ).

5Jefferson’s daughter Martha was a student at the Abbaye royale de Pentemont, an exclusive Paris convent school (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 6:76).

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